My beloved Mt. Tam Church,
Several of you have asked me since Christmas, who were those people who read the first lesson at the 7 p.m. Christmas Eve service? Never seen them before!” So, please let me introduce you to Pete and Alisa Liggett who annually attend our Christmas Eve service when they visit family in the Bay Area. Alisa and Pete’s kids have grown up here and each year for the past ten years, they come from their home in South Carolina to come to Mt. Tam Church for Christmas Eve. For them, Christmas means being with us for worship—not only part of the great family of Christ, but also part of being a connectional church, as the Liggetts are very active in their United Methodist congregation at home.
So how did they become readers? Well, because they offered and their offer became key in a Christmas story. You see, I’d asked someone else to read the lesson and let’s just say the way I handled that request didn’t work out for the person who I was asking. I made a couple of mistakes in communicating with him/her, which has led to my apologies and their gracious forgiveness. And the fact that she/he didn’t really want to read! Needing to find one more reader, as I prayed as to who to ask, Pete’s email came: “We have really appreciated the inclusion and participation of congregants in the Christmas Eve service and the warmth your faith community exudes. Our plans are to attend the Christmas Eve service again this year as part of our Christmas celebration. We would like to volunteer to be among the Christmas story readers during the Christmas Eve service (knowing this is a special role and that many of your congregants line up to do this). Please let us know if we can be of service, but know that we will enjoy our evening with you either way.” (Shared with Pete’s permission!)
The Christmas story is about a gift—the gift of God’s son, the gifts of the poor and wealthy, worldly and small, great and powerful and humble. The gift of God to the world for us to share. Pete and Alisa’s offer to read came as a gift as I prayed for whom to ask. God’s answers to prayer always come as a gift of grace, sometimes in the moment, more often in the time to come. God’s gift to us on Christmas Eve was not just someone to read the scripture—it was an act of grace which invites us to remember how broad is the family of God and how, when we hold open the circle, it expands and grows! Gifting is the continued Christmas story. How is the Christmas story being told in your life? How are you offering your gifts to God, to your church, even your pastor? How are your gifts perhaps the answer to someone else’s prayers? As this new year unfolds, may the Christmas story be part of your story, your own precious and beautiful story that only you can tell, by living out God’s gift that is you.
PS—In an after Christmas email, Pete said, “It’s amazing to be part of a faith community from a distance, and we will continue…..and just a note, we missed Fritz (Cassee) and his green sports coat! Happy New Year.